Learning how to healthily social media use is crucial, as its prevalence has rapidly increased over decades. Although it provides various benefits in regard to communication and raising awareness, social media is also extremely harmful. The bottom line is that given its major presence, it is more than necessary to understand the downsides of social media.
Social media typically consists of scrolling through photos and engaging with other users, which can seem harmless. However, users often make social comparisons, which refer to evaluating oneself based on others. This behavior often develops when an individual perceives another user as superior. People tend to evaluate others as more attractive, fun, happy, or social than themselves; however, this is solely based on their tailored and selective photo reel.
Social Media Does NOT Represent Reality
It is important to recognize that infinite editing applications exist, which users often use to cover blemishes, whiten teeth, and alter body shape. These apps can distort perceptions of reality and cause individuals to feel inadequate about their physical appearance, which is linked to depression and low self-esteem.
Social media is often a platform where users share highlights from their lives, which tend to consist of positive highlights. We often forget that these photos are never fully representative of any individual or lifestyle. Everyone can be selective in what they post, and most users only choose photos that reflect the happy, positive, attractive moments.
Social Media’s Impact on Mental Health
It’s not a myth that social media is significantly linked to mental health. Heavy social media users often develop anxiety disorders, which typically arise from the need to be connected. It it important to note that both anxiety and social media presence have surged within the last decade. Thus, this connection is far from unexpected. In addition, Researchers at Michigan State University found that social media can actually be addictive. In fact, high-frequency users tend to display the same behaviors and feelings that manifest in drug addicts.
We all know the feeling of going on social media, tuning out, and mindlessly scrolling through feeds. This is passive social media. Research shows that passive social media is substantially more harmful than active social media. It is through this passive behavior that we are likely to make upward social comparisons. In addition, passive social media is linked to both lower self-esteem and self-evaluations. Consciously set intentions before going on social media to hold yourself accountable and avoid passivity.
Once passive behavior becomes habitual, it can be incredibly difficult to cease. Thus, consider reflecting and truly looking at your behavior around social media. If you find yourself frequently engaging in passive scrolling, it’s probably time to modify your social media usage. A great first step is to set times during the day to disconnect – overtime, this will become habitual. Additionally, consider telling a friend about your plan so that you can be held accountable.
Disconnecting from social media improves overall quality of life, interpersonal communications, and sleep quality. Detaching from social media presents more opportunities to be present and enjoy life with fewer distractions and anxieties.
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